How to relax and enjoy holiday entertaining

(BPT) - When the holidays roll around, it can be easy to over-schedule, over-complicate and over-stress — especially when it’s your turn to be the party host. But if you look back on your favorite holiday memories, you probably don’t remember the centerpiece, the table settings or the menu. You just remember the people who were there and the fun you had spending that time together.

This year, give yourself permission to simplify your holiday entertaining plans and celebrate with less fuss. We guarantee a great time will still be had by all, including you. Here’s a streamlined approach to pulling it off.

1. Give yourself time to get organized

Block out space on the calendar for planning your holiday gathering and straightening up the place before the date arrives. Plus, add plenty of time for grocery shopping and food prep. It’s easy to think you can “stop at the store on the way home from work,” but that usually takes up more time than expected. Don’t be shy about enlisting friends and family for help — you’ll have more fun and less stress if you share the load.

2. Streamline the decorations

After clearing all the household clutter out of the way, add just a few pops of cheery, seasonal color to welcome your guests to the festivities:

  • Display holiday cards you’ve received, so everyone can enjoy them.
  • Hang red bows or sprigs of greenery near your front door.
  • For your centerpieces, fill a couple of large glass or ceramic bowls with colorful ornaments.
  • Wrap your party favors in bright, shiny wrapping paper and display them on a table or mantel. Let each guest choose a package to take home at the end of the party.

3. Opt for easy appetizers

It’s not difficult to come up with delicious appetizers that take little time to prepare, that are easy to pass around, and that everyone will love. SeaPak recently introduced its own Calamari Rings, which are crispy on the outside and perfectly tender on the inside. You could put the calamari on a serving tray and the tomato Romano sauce that comes with them in a bowl on the side. And don’t forget toothpicks for serving!

You also can turn to everyone’s favorite, jumbo butterfly shrimp, and whip up some Prosciutto-Wrapped Party Shrimp, a classic holiday appetizer that’s great for entertaining. If you’re expecting more guests, simply double or triple the recipe.

Prosciutto-Wrapped Party Shrimp

Ingredients:

1 9-ounce package SeaPak Jumbo Butterfly Shrimp

12 1" pieces of roasted red pepper

12 1" x 4" strips of prosciutto

12 small basil leaves

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Line baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

While shrimp is still frozen, place one piece of roasted red pepper onto each piece of shrimp.

Wrap one prosciutto strip around each shrimp-and-pepper unit and place on the baking sheet (with the prosciutto ends facing down).

Bake according to package directions for 14 to 17 minutes or until shrimp is cooked through.

Serve hot, garnished with the basil leaves.

4. Think beyond the "ugly sweater" theme

Nobody wants to worry about what to wear — or about coming up with the ugliest holiday sweater they can find. To keep everything relaxed, think about making the evening a pajama party or a “come as you are” gathering, with the dress code totally casual. Or you could suggest a “wear something red” theme, to liven things up and put everyone in the holiday spirit.

Keeping your party easy to plan and effortless to put on lets you focus on what's important — spending moments with the people you love and having a good time together.

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